By Karin Gelschus
Noted as the world’s largest snowmobile event, the 43rd annual Hay Days Grass Drags and Swap Meet in Forest Lake, Minn., attracted more than 30,000 attendees.
While Steve Seviola of Sno Barons says it wasn’t a record year, it was more people than they had anticipated. The event ran out of one-day wristbands on Saturday, Sept. 12.
“We backed off a little bit this year thinking attendance was going to be down because of the economy,” Seviola said. “We didn’t order quite like we usually do. Things went the other way. People stayed closer to home and came to see some things around town.”
While final numbers are yet to be determined, Seviola estimates there were 32,000-33,000 people in attendance throughout the weekend, which is possibly more than last year. Seviola notes there were about the same number of exhibitors, and they expect that amount to remain the same next year despite the event moving.
Hay Days will be held closer to North Branch, Minn., next year, where there will be more space. At this year’s location, there was about 85 acres of usable space. Seviola says next year there will be about 145 acres.
“We’re moving up a township, which is 7.2 miles east of North Branch,” he said. “Parking and everything is all going to be on the same side of the road. They’re already out there now getting things ready and building the track.”
The combination of new products, drag races and good weather contributed to the successful turnout and left many with an optimistic feeling about the upcoming season.
Ski-Doo announced a program to make it easier for its dealers to host open houses this year.
The Open House Event program will give dealers the chance to organize and promote events in their local markets, which will take place at various locations during the coming months.
The company has set up a Web site where customers can find events near them at Ski-doo.com/openhouse. BRP promotes the events as a way for snowmobilers to gather and have fun together.
BRP is providing incentives to attend the open houses, including limited production 2010 snowmobiles, yellow tag rebates up to $1,500 on 2008 and 2009 models, and the Million Dollar Club Support Program, which allows qualifying clubs to get $10 per member by bringing a coupon into their local dealer. Coupons are available through November in snowmobile publications and at Ski-doo.com.
Also encouraging snowmobilers to be more involved is Arctic Cat. The company is contributing to the Pink Ribbon Riders breast cancer organization by donating a snowmobile to be raffled off. For the past three years Arctic Cat has donated a limited-edition snowmobile each year, which Pink Ribbon Riders have used in raffle drawings to raise more than $30,000.
This year the sled is a Limited Edition 2010 Crossfire 600 that has a Pink Ribbon Riders graphic package as well as several Arctic Cat accessories, including a lightweight mountain seat.
For fund-raising events and opportunities, visit www.pinkribbonriders.com.
Along with the OEM announcements, the event gave snowmobile companies an opportunity to display their new products.
Starting Line Products displayed its STOMPGRIP traction pads, and Backcountry Access, which is fairly new to the snowmobile industry, debuted its Float 30 Avalanche Airbag.
“It was a good year. We want to thank everybody for attending,” Seviola said. “Hopefully there will be bigger and better things to come next year.”